By Champika Fernando in Centurion
Sri Lanka faces their first-ever whitewash against South Africa when the Fifth and Final ODI gets underway at the SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday (10).
Before this, Sri Lanka have played three limited over series’ here but each time they have managed to avoid a clean sweep. However, it looms large on the Sri Lankan Team this time around despite a brave performance in the fourth match of the series.
A fabulous batting effort from Skipper Upul Tharanga took Sri Lanka in sight of a victory in Cape Town but their inexperience in batting was once again well exposed as Sri Lanka lost their last six wickets for 20 runs to fall short by 40 runs, chasing 368. Apart from Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella has been in great form hitting back-to-back half centuries in the last two matches and the onus are on him and Tharanga to carry Sri Lanka’s batting, if they are looking to salvage some pride in an otherwise doomed series.
Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva who are playing in South Africa for the first time ever are yet to find their sublime form with the bat which they exhibited in Colombo, a huge worry for the Sri Lankans ahead of the final ODI. With Sandun Weerakkody proving his ability as a batsman, hitting a half century only in his second match, Dinesh Chandimal will be once again out for today’s game while spinner Lakshan Sandakan will make way for either Jeffrey Vandersay or spinning all-rounder Chathuranga de Silva in the playing XI.
Sandakan was Sri Lanka’s main spinner in the series but he has been wicket-less in the last two ODIs. There have been changes in every single match across formats in the current series as players were selected based more on the conditions on offer than the strength of the team.
“Like I have said before this is a learning experience for most of the players in the side. We know we are facing a clean sweep here but the way we came back in the last match has given lot of confidence to the players. So we will fight hard even if we lose,” said Skipper Tharanga.
South Africa on the other hand are pressing for a clinical finish to the series just before leaving to New Zealand and will give their best shot at sweeping their second series clean sweep. In their last outing South Africa beat Australia 5-0. South African have proved too strong in all three aspects as their brilliant batting have been well complimented with aggressive bowling and exception fielding led by Francois du Plessis.
South Africa: A. B. de Villiers (Captain), Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Francois du Plessis, J. P. Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Farhaan Behardien, Dwaine Pretorius and Tabraiz Shamsi
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (Captain), Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Sandun Weerakkody, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Asela Gunaratne, Nuwan Kulasekara, Jeffrey Vandersay, Suranga Lakmal, Lakshan Sandakan, Chathuranga de Silva, Lahiru Madushanka, Sachith Pathirana, Isuru Udana and Seekkuge Prasanna